Wednesday, January 28, 2009

UES thrift adventure

Today I spent a good chunk of my morning  scouring the Upper East Side for elements of my wedding centerpieces. It sounds terribly tacky, but you’ll just have to go with me on this one and trust me that it’s not for now, because I’m not giving up what my centerpieces are going to be.

Anyways, after checking out the internet for where the best places to head were, I found many out-of-date locations and a bunch of not-so-helpful reviews of the places. I mean, “it’s dimly lit” is basically a given in any thrift store I can afford to shop in, and “the aisles are close together” doesn’t really tell me if this place is stuffed with just ratty clothes or if it has household wares, which is where my interests were.

So here I have for you by far not a comprehensive list, I’m sure, but a pretty decently-sized one, along with updated addresses and my personal take on each one.

I have only listed the block that each one is on because A. I didn’t pay much attention to the specific numbers and B. I found from looking them up online that the numbers weren’t always particularly helpful when planning my trip, especially when the store was on an avenue.

I started off my trip by taking the 5 up to the 86th street stop. My first drop-in was:

GOODWILL on 2nd ave btw 88th/89th on the east side (which I found online named something like “Stuyvesant Square Thrift,” which has clearly been bought out.

There were some really cute vintage dresses and skirts here, tucked in with a lot of crap. Of course, you have to be willing to get that trademark “Goodwill Scent” out of anything you buy. They had some cute shoes, too, but very little in the way of any quality home furnishings. It was actually really roomy inside, considering it was a store located in Manhattan, but I left empty-handed.

I walked down 2nd ave to:

COUNCIL THRIFT on 84th st btw 2nd/3rd (much closer to 2nd) on the downtown side

This was the real gem of the day, as far as what I was looking for. There were just a few racks of clothing, but nothing too spectactular. Tucked away in the corner, though, was a large collection of really unique home furnishings. And as I was paying, I noticed a few more items on a shelf behind the register that I wanted. As it turns out, everything on that shelf is always 50% off. Score. I wouldn’t come here looking for clothes or shoes and any large furniture, but for small trinkets and such, this was the place to be.

After that, I walked down to:

OUT OF THE CLOSET on 81st st btw 2nd/3rd (much closer to 2nd) on the uptown side

I didn't even go into this store. It was so upscale that I was too intimidated to go inside. It was like one of those Gucci or other some such nonsense stores on Madison that I would never shop at, even if I had the money. Plus, I could see from the street that there was only clothing. Expensive clothing.

On my way down 3rd ave, I ran into an awesome thrifting block where I went into:

MEMORIAL SLOAN-KETTERING THRIFT SHOP on 3rd ave btw 82nd/81st (on the west side)

This place didn't even feel like a thrift store, it was so nice. I was kind've annoyed because a cranky older woman made me check my shopping bag at the front. I'm always insulted at the implication that I would steal. And from a thrift store, no less. A charity thrift store. But I did pick up a nice item because they had a decent selection of home goods. They had some cute vintage little girls' clothing, too. The adult clothing was kind've slim pickings, but they did have some cute shoes.

Then I ran just a few doors down to:

ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION THRIFT SHOP on 3rd ave btw 82nd/81st (on the west side, just downtown of MSK)

If I had more money, this would have been my favorite stop of the day. Things weren't particularly cheap here, but almost everything was fun to look at. They had vintage hats and shoes that were to die for and a decent bunch of home goods, to boot. I want to go back to this place with some cash to spend on myself or for a theatre company.

My final stop was just a few blocks further downtown at:

HOUSING WORKS THRIFT STORE on 84th st btw 2nd/3rd (on the downtown side)

I love the cause here: helping people who are living with HIV get back on their feet. The store was really nice, too. It wasn't too crowded with things and it had a very SOHO feel to the place. That said, they didn't have all that much for sale. The stuff I did see was nice and they had a few pairs of killer shoes that weren't my size, but there was hardly anything as far as household goods. There was a decent-looking selection of books in the back, though.

And that concludes my whirlwind UES thrift store adventure. Don't linger in any one place too long, or you won't make it to all six, that's for sure!

To answer your question: no, today was not the day to be thrifting. The weather sucked. And I nearly drowned. But I had fun anyway.


  1. Rock on! I live on the UES and have seen the exact same reviews for thrift stores- they are way outdated and not helpful at all. Thrift store shopping is almost an addiction, so I love living up here...

  2. The UES is the place for thrifting! But yeah, I'm shocked that there aren't more recent reviews, so I figured I'd do it myself!